J.C.Wells, University College London
Handout for a talk first given at the BAAP Colloquium, Cambridge, 1992, and later revised
1. ‘Estuary English’ (EE) was defined by Rosewarne (1984) as: ‘a variety of modified regional speech, [...] a mixture of non-regional and local south-eastern English pronunciation and intonation’. It received great media attention in 1993. Coggle’s book (1993) is subtitled ‘the new Standard English’. The Tory Minister of Education condemned it as ‘a bastardized version of Cockney dialect’.
2. EE differs from Cockney in that it lacks
3. EE agrees with Cockney, but differs from RP, in having (perhaps variably)
/h/ dropping (in content words):
ˈhænd ɒn ˈhɑːt (ˈænd ɒn ˈɑːt)
- TH fronting:
θɪŋk (fɪŋk), ˈfɑːðə (ˈfɑːvə)
- MOUTH vowel monophthong:
mæʊθ (maːf), dæʊn (daːn)
- T glottalling within a word before a vowel: ˈbʌtə (ˈbʌʔə), ˈwɔːtə (ˈwɔʊʔə)
4. Disregard Rosewarne's claims re
- tense vowel in HAPPY: ˈhæpi, ˈkɒfi, ˈveəriəs
- T glottalling finally (etc.): ˈteɪk ɪʔ ˈɒf, ˈðæʔ ˈɪz, ˈpʌʔni
- vocalization of preconsonantal/final /l/: ˈmɪok ˌbɒto, ˈdʒento/ˈdʒenʔli
- yod coalescence in stressed syllables: ˈtʃuːzdeɪ, rɪˈdʒuːs, ˈstʃuːdənʔ
- (?) diphthong shift in FACE, PRICE, GOAT: fʌɪs, prɑɪs, gʌʊʔ
- (?) striking allophony (phoneme split?) in sold: sɒʊ(ɫ)d, ˈrɒʊlə
- glottalling of /d/ (!)
- phonetic quality of /r/
- yod dropping after /s/ and /l/: suːt, ˈæbsəluːt
- usage: cheers 'thank you; goodbye'; there you go 'here you are' etc.
- international ratings (RP 84%, GenAm 71%, Australian 59%, EE 57%...)
- Is EE a variety (lect, dialect) in its own right, or just the formal style for which Cockney is the informal?
- Does EE include stylistic variation? Does informal EE overlap with formal Cockney? (-ing? you?)
- Where is the boundary between EE and RP? Is localizability a workable criterion?
- Coggle, Paul, 1993. Do you speak Estuary? London: Bloomsbury.
- Coggle, Paul, 1994. ‘The changing sounds of English’. Sunday Times, London, 28 August 1994, 10.8-10.
- Kerswill, P. and A. Williams, 1994. A new dialect in a new city. ESRC.
- Margolis, Jonathan, 1994. ‘I’ll say that again’. Sunday Times, London, 28 August 1994, 10.9.
- Rosewarne, David, 1984. ‘Estuary English’. Times Educational Supplement, 19 (October 1984).
- Rosewarne, David, 1994a. ‘Estuary English: tomorrow’s RP?’. English Today 37.10.1 (January 1994), 3-8.
- Rosewarne, David, 1994b. ‘Pronouncing Estuary English’. English Today 40.10.4 (October 1994), 3-7.
- Wells, J.C., 1982. Accents of English. vol. 2: 4.2, London.
- Wells, J.C., 1995 ‘Transcribing Estuary English: a discussion document’. Speech Hearing & Language vol. 8, 261-267, 1994. UCL Phonetics and Linguistics.
Unicode version posted on the web 1998 Dec 17. John Wells
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